ASB MAGAZINE: Last week, Patagonia surf ambassador Heath Joske and a small Australian delegation led by Peter Owen from the Wilderness Society and aboriginal elder and singer Bunna Lawrie took the Fight for the Bight directly to Equinor’s heartland in Oslo, Norway. Heath and the delegation took the anti-drilling message directly to the Equinor board at their annual AGM. Over 150 people were in attendance at the AGM with a number of groups opposing the proposal to drill in the Great Australian Bight including Greenpeace Norway, the youth Labour Party, the World Wildlife Foundation, Followthis.org and a politician from Norwegian political party Venstre.
Proposals received at the AGM included:
- Greenpeace Norway presented a shareholder proposal that the company should refrain from oil and gas exploration and production activities in frontier areas, immature areas and particularly sensitive areas
- A Shareholder proposed that Equinor set medium and long-term quantitative targets that include Scope 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas emissions.
- Another Shareholder proposed that the board present a strategy for real business transformation to sustainable energy production, thus reducing Shareholder risk and ensuring Shareholder values
No proposals were adopted by Equinor at the AGM.
Patagonia Surf Manager for Europe, Gabriel Davies observed:
“The delegation spoke with back-to-back powerful and positive statements in what was otherwise a very depressing corporate atmosphere. The many different reasons why this drilling shouldn’t go ahead was communicated directly to the shareholders of Equinor, and it was powerful. The Australian delegation’s impact was loud and clear around the issue of the Bight and the impacts of continuing to drill as the world recognizes the climate crisis,” said Davies.
“Outside the AGM the scene was hopeful with many people protesting, including Ziggy Alberts who finished his recent tour in Oslo and flew across to join the delegation in opposing Equinor,” said Davies.
Heath Joske spoke at the AGM and also personally delivered letters from over 300 concerned Australians to Equinor CEO Eldar Saetre. In his AGM address, Joske referred to the growing opposition to the proposed drilling, citing the open letter signed by Australian surfing world champions.
“After the proposals, there was a period where stakeholders could comment. The delegation spoke well and the half a dozen Norwegians who spoke after the Australians were all supporting us in our fight,” said Heath Joske.
“The CEO made a general statement at the end that basically said what they have always said, which is that the conditions are similar to the North Sea and that they are confident to drill the well safely, and that NOPSEMA will handle the approval process,” concluded Joske.
Whilst the AGM did not provide a definitive position on drilling in the Bight, there’s no doubt the delegations mission was heard by the Board of Directors.
Fight for the Bight Alliance Norwegian representative Rune Woldsnes said:
“For the campaign, the AGM is not an end-point in any way. It is a step on the way to getting Equinor out of the Bight. There is no question the board got the message. This was the ‘Bight, climate and emissions’ AGM,” said Woldsnes.
Commenting on the Equinors AGM, Brynn O’Brien from the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility said
“I have never seen a board and CEO go to such lengths to avoid answering legitimate questions from shareholders — the format of the AGM was designed to produce this outcome. Perhaps they have no answers. There are no good reasons to continue frontier fossil fuels exploration in a time of climate crisis.”
Heath Joske will now head to Lofoten Islands where he will meet with local campaigners in that area who were successful in stopping oil exploration in their own sensitive marine environment.